Tag Archive: Tyler Clementi

Chris Christie and GLBT youth

Welcome to Blue Jersey, Kari.  – promoted by Rosi

Last week, Chris Christie said of the two college students who posted images of their roommate, Tyler Clementi, on the internet, shortly before Clementi’s suicide, “I don’t know how those two folks are going to sleep at night.”  

Maybe this was a hate crime.  Maybe it was just the utterly thoughtless actions of two individuals who couldn’t tell the difference between right and wrong.  But what is certain is that Christie, whose election almost certainly defeated the marriage equality bill in NJ, “felt in his gut that marriage should be between a man and a woman. He even tried to think of it differently, he said, and it just didn’t fit.”

It just didn’t fit.  Well, something about Tyler Clementi “didn’t fit” for Dharun Ravi and Michelle Wei, either, which is why they felt justified violating his privacy by posting a romantic encounter online.  Intolerance doesn’t have to be wearing a white hood or frothing at the mouth.  Simple quiet statements of disgust, and the timidity of our elected leadership to stand up, not only for what “fits” but also for what is right, create the environment in which individuals like Ravi and Wei can ruin a young man’s life just by trying to be “funny.”  

Tyler Clementi and the Fight for Civil Rights

Rush Holt attended last night’s forum on the Rutgers campus in the wake of Tyler Clementi’s suicide. The Trevor Project Lifeline and other help numbers are listed after the jump, if you know somebody who might like to have them.  – promoted by Rosi

The fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is the next front in America’s struggle for civil rights.

The milestones of America’s progress have marked fights for equal rights, liberty, and justice for all.  The enduring struggle – to grant women the right to vote, to end Jim Crow, to provide opportunity and accessibility to individuals with disabilities – helps define who we are as a nation.

The tragedy of Tyler Clementi’s death – like the suicides of three other teens in three other states whose deaths reportedly are linked to anti-gay bullying and abuse – is part of that struggle.

Remembering And Feeling Sad

By all reports, Tyler Clementi of Ridgewood, New Jersey was a young man of great promise and enormous talent.  Can we imagine what desperate feelings Tyler might have been experiencing as he drove to that spot on the George Washington Bridge? Can we imagine secretly having our most intimate moments photographed and sent viral over the internet? Can we imagine being 18, just starting college and finding out your roommate “spied” on you with a hidden camera to make the pictures into a “joke”?  How desperately sad for Tyler and his family and indeed for all of us.

What could have made these two young college students think this cruel idea was a “funny prank”?

We’ve all asked each other the most appropriate questions. We’ve written and talked about how in our State gay folks do not have all the same rights as the rest of us do!  We comment on people who think being gay is a choice which can be “cured”!  We know how some in our community still think they can bully and torment others, snicker and make them the brunt of awful jokes. Tyler Clementi’s suicide is being discussed in the national media.  The higher incidence of suicide among gay teenagers is dissected.  A new blog by Perez Hilton called “It Gets Better” was announced on CNN (and even on Fox News), and is designed  to reach out to gay teens.

People are asking should the two idiots who dreamed up this horror be prosecuted under hate crime laws. Should our laws be re-written or changed?   We know that Garden State Equality has been working with Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Valerie Vaineri Huttle to re-work our anti-bullying law to make it more appropriately stringent.

How will we work to build a community where these laws won’t be so necessary? This week I don’t have very many answers.  As an affilliated Jew in the Bergen/Hudson area, I receive a weekly newspaper which I greatly respect:  The Jewish Standard. Last week they printed their first engagement announcement of a gay couple. This week, they announced that they will not do “this” again. Their editor’s note said they received many letters of condemnation as well as letters of support, but because of the sensitivities expressed by a strong segment of leaders in our religious community, they do not want to divide the community or offend these sensitivities. That is certainly their editorial right to do so. But coming in the same week as Tyler Clementi’s suicide, it makes me even more sad.

So here’s a letter to the Jewish Standard, written by Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, a member of our Teaneck community:

Letter & rest of diary after the jump:

Clementi tragedy spurred Sen. Turner to introduce Bullying legislation.

Will Senators Sweeney, Sarlo, Beach, Van Drew and Madden follow their colleague to defend gay youth after their NO(N) votes on equality?

From today’s Courier Post:

Tyler Clementi’s fatal plunge off the GW Bridge last week spurred the legislation, introduced by Sen. Shirley Turner. A bipartisan bill – termed the “anti-bullying bill of rights” by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri and Mary Pat Angelini – is currently being written and will be introduced shortly.

011309@17A less indecisive Sen. Beach.

As one of the Democrats who voted against gay marriage equality, Turner might seem a dubious choice to lead the charge in this battle. The NJ-ALCU legal director issued a withering denunciation of Turner and her colleagues, namely Senate Pres. Steve Sweeney whose non-vote on marriage create a climate of inequality that imperils our kids to begin with. It’s a fair argument and I am glad someone made it.

But I’m also glad that Shirley Turner –regardless of her vote — is sponsoring this legislation and that Sweeney called for a moment of silence to honor Tyler Clementi. If Steve Sweeney wants to sign on as co-sponsor that’d be a bonus.

Come to think of it, I’d invite all the Democrats who voted NO (or abstained) on marriage to sign on as primary co-sponsors to Senator Turner’s Bullying Bill of Rights. Senators Beach, Sarlo, Van Drew, and Madden this means YOU!

It’s hard to forgive and forgive and move on from that cold winter day when the Democratic caucus folded on gay rights in New Jersey. But what’s on the table at the moment is a different opportunity: to craft and pass a bill that’s so darn good at protecting kids from bullying and harassment that 49 other states want to import it for themselves.

If I’m being naive, it wouldn’t be the first time.

A Community Mourns Together

As New Jersey and the nation continue to mourn the death of Tyler Clementi – a tragedy that has hit so many of us so close to home, the community will have the chance to share our collective grief over the loss of a bright young light, gone too soon.

Next week, Garden State Equality is joining with State Legislators, and leaders of state and national organizations, for two Town Meetings in Memory of Tyler Clementi:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 7:00 pm

New Brunswick – Rutgers University Student Center

Multi-Purpose Room, 126 College Avenue

Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Ridgewood, New Jersey – Tyler’s hometown

St. Elizabeth’s Church, 169 Fairmount Road

The Town Meetings will offer the opportunity for the self-reflection, remembrance, and community empowerment. I commented earlier that I remain at a loss for words days after the tragic news of the death of Tyler Clementi. I’m hoping the words of others will help make sense of what has become our state’s collective grief.

Participating organizations include: BiGLARU (Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance at Rutgers), Delta Lambda Phi, Rutgers HiTOPS, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, LLEGO, Queer People of Color at Rutgers, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, PFLAG, Queer Coalition Rutgers and The Trevor Project. And surely more will join.

No RSVP is necessary for either event. But, I can say for certain I will be there.

Legislators set the tone for bullying

Barocas, Legal Director of NJ’s ACLU, suggests our Governor look in the mirror, and our Senate President’s words ring hollow. – promoted by Rosi

It didn’t take long for my feelings of horror and sadness at the suicide of Tyler Clementi to turn into anger – anger not just at the unfeeling young students who so cruelly invaded Tyler’s privacy, but at our state’s leaders who, through their refusal to provide gay and lesbian citizens with full equality, have stigmatized gay and lesbian relationships and set the tone for tragedies like this to occur.

A line from my testimony to the New Jersey legislature during the 2009 marriage equality debate echoed hauntingly in my mind:

“When the state itself segregates people, it grants the rest of society permission to do the same. Through its example, the legislature excuses bigotry and emboldens bullies.”

keep reading below the fold

Tyler Clementi’s body is identified

tyler-clementi_370x278CNN is reporting (via the Breaking News banner) that a body pulled from the Hudson River has been identified as violinist, Ridgewood resident, and Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, the victim both of an apparent suicide jump off the George Washington Bridge and of two classmates who broadcast a secretly recorded private sexual encounter over the internet.

At Blue Jersey, we’re subdued today, so troubled by apparent cruelty, so saddened by the loss of a talented young man getting ready for the world at our state’s university. More than anything, we want to join you in any efforts toward strengthening our young people – all our young people – so that we don’t miss out on what glory they can bring to us with their hopes, their dreams, and their long, long lives.

Rest in Peace, Tyler Clementi. We’ve got you, little brother.

Tragedy on the Banks

promoted by Rosi

Cross-posted from deciminyan

The media coverage of the death of first-year Rutgers student Tyler Clementi includes parceling out the blame for this tragedy among fellow students, the ubiquity and spontaneity of the internet, and the pervasiveness of bullying and harassment among teen agers.  Yet one important factor is underreported.

Tyler Clementi was the victim of what Garden State Equality’s CEO Steven Goldstein correctly categorizes as a Hate Crime.  Allegedly, Mr. Clementi’s roommate and another accomplice surreptitiously broadcast video of Mr. Clementi having a homosexual encounter in his dorm room.  Once this was revealed, it may have led Mr. Clementi to commit suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.  Sadly, this was not an isolated incident.

In their reporting of the Clementi affair, the media unsurprisingly include the lurid details of the web video and the suicide jump.  Some, such as the article by Amy Ellis Nutt, provide some background on other crimes where the internet and social media have been used as an enabler.  

(continue reading below the fold)

Viciousness Goes Viral with Deadly Consequences

As details of the Rutgers University cyber/voyeur/bullying tragedy continue to emerge, a nation comes to grips with the shocking suicide of Tyler Clementi.

Screen shot 2010-09-30 at 8.18.36 AM
#TylerClementi Twitter feed

Evidence suggests the harassment by his roommate was chronic and that Clementi possibly reached out for advice about the invasive bullying just hours before his apparent suicide. Gawker:

Though not as bothered with his roommate’s actions as he likely should have been (Clementi) is clearly disturbed by the disregard for his privacy-and the bigoted disgust-shown by both his roommate and the people commenting on his roommate’s Facebook page “with things like ‘how did you manage to go back in there?’ ‘are you ok?'” He says he’ll file a roommate change request form, and “see what [the school] can offer” him.

Clearly it’s a ghoulish intersection of voyeurism and cyber-bullying at play here. After all, “Being brave on the internet is one thing-facing a privacy-free dorm full of bigots, day in, day out, is another thing entirely.”

NJ Senator Loretta Weinberg suggests that, ” this terrible tragedy demonstrates a bigger problem. Despite anti-bullying laws and efforts to teach children tolerance and acceptance, unprovoked acts of cruelty continue to take place, resulting in tragic deaths of youngsters across our country (like this.)”

Students at RU: “stunned, angry.” Photo courtesy Santiago Melli-Huber

I awoke to 100+ email messages about this incident (see sampling below the fold) and the “seizure of conscience” it evoked feels reminiscent of Matthew Shepherd’s murder in 1998.

It’s too early for the blame game or for silver linings, I can’t help but hope this incident spurns our own legislature in Trenton to renew their commitment to anti-bullying legislation to protect youngsters from the viral viciousness which led to Tyler Clementi’s death.

Humiliation and Death of a Rutgers student

Update: a body has been found.

Tyler Clementi, a violinist and student at Rutgers University, is the man police believe jumped to his death off the south walk of the George Washington Bridge last Wednesday night. His body has not been found, but a wallet was left. He was 18 years old.

Tyler: The story is still developing, but all signs point to Clementi’s suicide, and tie his death to his humiliation by two fellow students, who police believe set up hidden cameras in his dorm room on the Davidson campus, recorded a sexual encounter, then broadcast it widely via the internet. The students, Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro and Molly Wei of Princeton, have been charged with invasion of privacy.

Asher: Last week, Houston 8th-grader Asher Brown shot himself in the head after what his parents say was relentless bullying. Picked on because of his size, his religion and because he didn’t have the fashionable shoes. Some kids also said he was gay, and performed mock sex acts on him in gym.

Chris: This week, at the University of Michigan, the school’s first openly gay student body president – Chris Armstrong – is the subject of a breathless, angry blog written by alumnus Andrew Shirvell, a Michigan Assistant Attorney General who describes himself as a “Christian-American.” Chris Armstrong Watch is creepy as hell. CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Shirvell last night and nailed him as “obsessed with this young gay man.” The video is must watch, a view of “Christianity” full of sick obsession and – my read – terrifying sexual jealousy.

The stakes: These are the stakes in all equality questions. It’s why life and death are tied by advocates to such docile domestic issues as “marriage” and “kids.” We look at people and decide they’re allowed only so much of what we think is ours to dole out as we please. If you don’t see people as equals, it’s easy to depersonalize them, reduce them  to losers, or to jokes. Not for you – you’re not worth it. Stealing from people’s humanity, you may not know how much you take. High price. Tyler Clementi may have paid that for us. And Asher Brown, 13. That crazypants in Michigan wants Chris Armstrong to pay it, or he wants something else entirely. But this shit isn’t funny. It never was.